Corner Bakery Café has grown from a small neighborhood bakery to locations in 23 states serving kitchen-crafted breakfast, lunch, dinner, and catering. More than a bakery and more than a café, it’s a brand crafted for today’s lifestyle. Guests can make themselves at home in a warm comfortable atmosphere while enjoying a menu of freshly grilled paninis, made-to-order salads, and pasta pan sautéed to order.

LISTEN: Corner Bakery Café CEO Frank Paci chats on how to win in a changing, competitive market.

Founded on a philosophy of creating a warm and comfortable place for people to relax with friends, family and neighbors featuring artisan-inspired menu options. Donna Josephson, CMO of Corner Bakery Café, has over 20 years of restaurant marketing experience in developing and implementing innovative brand strategies and marketing programs to drive results. Below are highlights from our conversation on their success:

What do you believe has changed the most when it comes to driving customer frequency? 

The most effective tactics to drive frequency have been through our most loyal guests in our loyalty database because they have an affinity for the brand. By offering them incentives and unique opportunities, we have been able to drive traffic. The next step is to segment to their unique interests, and we hope to see the best results coming from targeted messages for different audiences.

How important are coupons for attracting new customers?

We do some strategic couponing to attract new guests. We have found marketing new LTO product offerings has also produced new segments of audiences to our brand.

What role has social media played in brand awareness?

Social media continues to play a key role for our branding as we do not advertise broadly in the legacy mediums of TV and radio. We have transitioned our communication from retail messaging to more engaging lifestyle posts that highlight our great food and we have seen our engagement go up exponentially.  

What is your top marketing tip for a new restaurant just starting? 

Before you build your marketing plan, it is necessary to understand your brand’s unique selling proposition and its relationship with the consumer. Also, as marketers it is crucial to understand operations in the restaurant industry and how to sell to your internal customers the operators as they are the team that executes your vision.

How have your charitable-giving promotions and sponsorships helped with community relations?

We have built a relationship with Habitat for Humanity in Dallas and are expanding that across the country.  We provide catering to help the volunteers during a Habitat for Humanity build and feel this helps us showcase the quality of our catering services. The team is volunteering for a build day this spring. Corner Bakery also provides opportunities to raise funds for local charities. The brand likes to give back and we want to build partnerships in our community to do so.

Do individualized local or national campaigns generate the best ROI?

I believe it depends on the brand and their individual footprint. For Corner Bakery, we have a limited footprint in some of the most expensive media markets, we do not purchase national traditional media such as TV or radio. Most of our efforts are using micro targeting with email, social media, digital  and some print advertising.

Can you give an example of a successful LTO program?

We recently have seen success with a new LTO featuring shrimp menu items, so successful it is moving to our core menu. The Shrimp Scampi and Shrimp Caesar offered guests a new protein and flavor that has really resonated and out-performed the results we saw during the test phase. Bringing in a new product, we placed a lot of emphasis on training to ensure quality execution and marketing to ensure the trial from our guests.

Do you have a restaurant marketing question? Email and follow him on Twitter @Vitals_com

Reader question: What data do you find most critical to develop your marketing strategies?

I recommend starting with your first party data which is data you collect to develop your marketing strategies. It will have the most impact by starting at the bottom of the marketing funnel using your transactional data to learn characteristics of your most frequent and new guests. This data will help inform your menu, pricing, media and creative to retarget current guests and identify similar audiences. Once you understand your actual customer behavior, it will help you determine the true impact of your current strategies and enable you to better understand digital analytics, traditional media metrics, guest surveys and the valuable feedback acquired from your team members who are directly serving your guests.

Editor’s note: This is the latest monthly column with Rom Krupp, the founder and CEO of Marketing Vitals, an analytics software helping restaurants of all shapes and sizes. You can read his column on Twin Peaks here, Abuelo’s here, Kenny’s Restaurant Group here, Firenza Pizza here, Sonny’s BBQ here, Boston’s here, Del Frisco’s Grill here, City Barbecue here, Four Foods Group here, Melt Shop here, Sizzler here, Saxbys here, Stoner’s Pizza Joint here, CKE Restaurants here, Chicken Salad Chick here, Quaker Steak & Lube here, Greenleaf here, and Hopdoddy Burger Bar here.

Marketing & Promotions, Outside Insights, Story, Corner Bakery Cafe